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Sunplus Technology Realize Aggressive Cost and Schedule Goals


Sunplus faced a number of challenges when designing a large high-density chip for the consumer electronic products market. George Chou, director in the Design Methodology Service division of Sunplus, explains how the project was successfully completed while meeting tight cost and schedule goals.

Sunplus Technology is a system solutions provider and leading designer of ICs. Their vision is to develop 'technology for easy living', with a focus on audio-visual, digital signal processor and microcontroller applications.

From R&D to IP
Key to Sunplus Technology’s approach to SoC design has been the development of a wide range of silicon intellectual property (IP). Their IP provides a source of proven building blocks for core functions, such as DVD playing and recording, LCD drivers and controllers, AV processing and multimedia control. Availability of a rich library of high-level building blocks is an important factor in enabling the Sunplus design teams to achieve their aggressive project schedules. However, design methodology, use of expert design services and the right tools also play a critical part in helping Sunplus to meet their goals.

Embarking on a 2.5 million gate design for a high-performance chip involved a number of challenges. George Chou, director in the Design Methodology Service division of Sunplus, identified unit cost and time-to-market as critical factors for this particular consumer design. These business drivers meant that Sunplus had to achieve the chip’s performance target while not exceeding the tight die-size constraint.

Working with Synopsys’ design consultants, they completed the entire physical layout of the design within 30 days. Synopsys’ IC Compiler next-generation place and route system was key in enabling a utilization of close to 90 percent to be achieved, minimizing the die size and significantly lowering the chip cost.

“The combination of Synopsys’ next-generation physical implementation technology and expert design services allowed us to maximize productivity while meeting both our performance and time-to-results goals,” claimed Chou. Despite the high density, using IC Compiler in the physical implementation meant that the team was able to close timing across both functional modes—mission mode and test mode—and achieve the target design frequency.

Next-generation Physical Implementation
As well as using Synopsys’ IC Compiler solution, Sunplus benefited from the use of a number of sub-flows from the Synopsys’ Pilot Design Environment. Pilot is a complete, silicon-proven RTL-to-GDSII design environment. This disciplined and proven approach to methodology is an important factor in helping to achieve Sunplus’ aggressive performance and schedule goals.

Current-generation physical implementation technology is less predictable because placement, clock tree, and routing are separate, disjointed operations. “With the old approach it can take more time and iterations to achieve timing closure,” explains Chou. “Often, when one issue is fixed it can be affected by a downstream optimization, which means having to go back to look at it again.”

IC Compiler unifies optimizations across synthesis, placement, clock tree, and routing. Because of this, users have consistently reported 2X faster turnaround time, on average. Much of this productivity boost can be attributed to the Extended Physical Synthesis (XPS) technology within IC Compiler, which enables the unified approach to optimization, extending physical synthesis to full place-and-route and allowing signoff-driven design closure to be achieved.

IC Compiler has a unified, TCL-based architecture that is the basis for a complete place-and-route system with everything necessary to do advanced designs, including physical synthesis, placement, routing, timing, signal integrity (SI) optimization, power reduction, design-for-test (DFT), and yield optimization.

For Sunplus Technology, the use of IC Compiler within a silicon-proven RTL-to-GDSII design environment has enhanced their ability to tackle complex chip designs more predictably and productively.

R&D Commitment Drives Innovation
A major international consumer electronics IC design company, Sunplus Technology is headquartered in the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park in Taiwan – home to almost 400 high-technology companies involved in the semiconductor, computer, telecommunication and optoelectronics industries. Since its inception, Sunplus has focused on the development of consumer electronics chip solutions, providing chips for computer peripherals, home and personal entertainment. With such a comprehensive chip-set portfolio, Sunplus Technology offers its customers a single source for the ICs they need to develop high-quality and cost-effective consumer products.

Ongoing commitment to R&D is key to meeting their customer’s primary business drivers of low cost and time to market. The investment in R&D is evidenced by the growing list of industry ‘firsts’, with new products and technologies. For example, Sunplus Technology was the first Taiwan-based company to independently develop a 32-bit embedded RISC processor. They have achieved leadership in the development of single chips for multi-function office machines, and developed SATA-to-USB bridge chips that have the world’s highest market share. Other products include high-efficiency micro-controllers for laser mice, single chips combining decoding and sensor functions for webcams, chip solutions for MP3, PMP, digital cameras, mobile phones, and various personal entertainment products, as well as a highly scalable family of entertainment platform products that are compatible with multiple standards including DVB, DVD, DVR and HDTV.

About Sunplus Technology
Sunplus Technology Company Limited, established in 1990, is an IC design company devoted to electrical consumer applications. Sunplus offers not only IC design but also system solutions to maximize customer's profit by differentiating each design. Sunplus' reusable IP such as audio/video, microprocessor and digital signal processor technologies applied to hundreds of IC products such as DVD player/recorder, LCD driver/controller, game processor, camera controller, mobile media processor and ASICs that contributed to our quality life. With sales of NT$18,781 million for 2005, Sunplus has a compound annual growth rate of over 30% over 5 years.


©2010 Synopsys, Inc. Synopsys and the Synopsys logo are registered trademarks of Synopsys, Inc. All other company and product names mentioned herein may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners and should be treated as such.


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"The combination of Synopsys’ next-generation physical implementation technology and expert design services allowed us to maximize productivity while meeting both our performance and time-to-results goals."